Exposure to traumatic or violent experiences negatively affects the health, education, and development of preschool-aged children in Kansas City's urban communities and in rural and suburban communities throughout the state of Missouri. Without intervention, these children often experience lifelong emotional disturbance, social developmental delays, and learning problems.
Head Start-Trauma Smart is an innovative program created by Crittenton Children's Center that addresses the high incidence of complex trauma that negatively impacts the lives of 3- to 5-year-old children.This trauma includes, but is not limited to:
- Family and/or community violence
- Family members’ arrest and/or incarceration
- Caregiver substance abuse or untreated mental illness
- Separation from their parents
- Family member’s death
Children who experience these types of trauma often become physically and emotionally on “red alert”—their hearts race, they cannot sleep, and they live in fear. Head Start-Trauma Smart provides the appropriate mental health treatment to help children concentrate in school and develop social and emotional resilience to carry them into adulthood.
Within the context of the children's natural environment—Head Start classrooms—Crittenton Head Start-Trauma Smart staff improve understanding among classroom personnel and parents about the sources and symptoms of trauma, identify its impact in children, teach specific skills for responding, and provide access to therapeutically intervene when appropriate (follow a child using a calm down box).
Crittenton Children's Center received a second grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Vulnerable Populations Program) for $2.4 million from July 2013-July 2016. A number of other funding partners are providing match dollars (including): Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, Missouri Foundation for Health, and Alliance of the Southwest/Missouri Department of Social Services.
With these funds, Crittenton can more fully provide for the needs of more than 3,000 children who participate in Head Start programs located in Wyandotte County, Kansas and across the state of Missouri.
- "Giving traumatized kids a head start in healing", PBS (July 24, 2014)
- A Model for Creating a Supportive Trauma-Informed Culture for Children in Preschool Settings, Journal of Child and Family Studies (May 20, 2014)
- Head Start-Trauma Smart: Creating Trauma-Informed Head Start Communities, Head Start Sandbox - Featuring program data (Summer 2013)
- Schools That Separate the Child From the Trauma, The New York Times - Highlighting Head Start-Trauma Smart Program (November 13, 2013)
- Children Make Significant Clinical Gains, Head Smart-Trauma Smart Treatment Outcome Report (2013)
- Hear Eileen Duggan, M.D., discuss complex trauma in children.
- Hear Avis Smith, LSCSW, talk about trauma and how it affects a child’s emotions.
For more information about Crittenton Children's Center, call 816-765-6600 or e-mail TraumaSmart@saint-lukes.org.